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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Misappropriation of campaign funds: Ex-PDP governor, Presidency official fingered



The latest in our newsroom indicates that a former governor has been fingered in the spate of embezzlement going on in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Organisation, reports ITRealms.

The former governor has been seen with President Goodluck Jonathan at several rallies and functions of recent.

The former governor, who has an interest in a new generation bank where he was chairman at some point, attended a meeting with the President and a few others in January, where Jonathan ordered one of the prominent female ministers in his cabinet to release "some billions of naira to him" to oil the machinery of the campaign team, a source said.

The source said the money was "cornered" from some "big" government contractors.
The strategy is what is called "decoy" in government circles, where money to finance rallies, campaigns and advertisements will come from private individuals and not government officials.

The former governor has some people working with him to disburse the fund but he and a principal officer in the Presidency are alleged to have cornered a substantial part of the fund running into billions of naira. 

The money was said to have been first lodged in the bank where the former governor has interest.
The idea is to get commission on the fund and, if possible, "seize" or sit on the money till after election with the hope that once election is over, the money "expires".

Part of the money was meant to settle some opinion leaders critical of President Jonathan in the six geopolitical zones.

But it was learnt this was yet to be done. 

It was gathered that this was why Jonathan himself had to come to the South West to personally "settle some people" because he does not trust any of his aides brokering negotiations for him as most of such money allegedly ended in private pockets.

The lid on the misappropriation of the fund was blown open by a governorship aspirant in one of the South West states, who was part of the team but felt shortchanged. 

A livid Jonathan was said to have summoned a meeting where an outspoken Presidency official was shouted down by the President for being part of the scam. 

“He (the outspoken official) would have been fired immediately, but the President was advised not to do it now that election is just a few days away,” the source said.

Jonathan was said to have asked how the money was spent and "all sorts of names and companies were reeled out as having benefited from the money. Full page advert money for newspapers was doubled and tripled just to cover their tracks. 

"For example, they told the President that full page advert for Punch, ThisDay, Guardian is now N2 million 'political special rate', centrespread is N6 million and wrap around N70 million because of the election.

"But some media people like a woman managing a magazine at the meeting knew they were lying but surprisingly kept sealed lips. Cost of television commercials was also increased.

"But the problem is that when the money spent was totalled, it was not even up to one quarter of what was released to the team. It is like all of them know that Jonathan may lose the election. So, they are just trying to take whatever they can take before election day."

The embezzlement tale has also affected the media team as millions of naira have allegedly been stolen.

The over N150 million said to have been budgeted for online advertisement remains unaccounted for as earlier reported.

The source added: "The major problem is that nobody can really discipline the affected officers because the sleaze cuts across all the teams in the campaign organisation – procurement, media, logistics, mobilisation, security, etc. They are all helping themselves."
 

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